Rivergate Trail/Sissy Danforth Trail

Long Railroad Bed trail, Philadelphia/Clayton/Redwood

Info: Old railroad bed trail built on the old New York Central line.  The trail is around 30 miles overall, forks go to Philadelphia, Clayton, and Redwood.  

There are multiple places to park along the roads that criss-cross the trail, some with nearby parking areas and some not.

Also see S. Gerald Ingerson Preserve.

A little bit on the background and history of the railroad this trail was built on, from Larry G.: “The rail line from Philly to Clayton was originally built as the Utica and Black River in the mid 1800’s. Any mileposts (not whistle posts, such as you have pictured on your trails page) you might find along that trail will probably have a “U” on them. The number will be the distance from Utica. This was part of the same line that still runs from Utica to Lyons Falls, once ran from there through Glenfield to Lowville, and still runs from Lowville, through Carthage, to Philly. The Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg took the line over from the U&BR, and the RW&O was itself eventually taken over by the Central. In its heyday, a lot of passenger trains traveled over the line each day, bringing folks to Clayton to vacation on the river, often in the huge hotels on the islands.”

Another description from MTB_on_trails Mailing List Moderator:

Scenic cross-country trail on old railroad bed that begins in Philadelphia, NY and continues to Theresa, NY and Clayton, NY. One small section of trail is closed from Rt 37 toward Clayton, NY. Gravel, dirt, sand surfaces. Mostly straight with a few bends, hills. One very high bridge overlooking the Indian River Gorge and many small bridges. One small tunnel passes under a roadway. Many telltale signs of a former railroad bed. Scenic views of farmland, woods, this trail also pass through scenic rock cutouts, ponds and river. Wildlife views of birds-of-prey, ducks, geese, deer, beaver, etc. Places to stop and rest. Parking areas for vehicles along intersecting roads. The trail is open to bikes, hikers, and skiing. Open dawn to 12:30 am.

Directions: There is more than one entrance to the trail, you should be able to park along any of the roads that cross the trail as long as there are no “No Parking” signs along the road.

For one entrance take Route 37 from Watertown and go past Pamelia. The first entrance is around 4 or 5 miles from Pamelia on the right, a few feet before the corner for Route 136, right across from the old milk plant. Parking would be along the road or possibly at the milk plant if you were to ask them. There is a small sign marking the trail from this entrance.

Another entrance would be to take Route 37 from Watertown and go past Pamelia. Find the Silver Street Road on the right. A short distance down Silver Street Road take a left onto Eddy Road (past Indian River Estates). Continue until you get to the River Road and take a left. A ways down you will find a turn-off with a boat launch and fishing area. Continue past that a bit and you will see an old railroad bridge on the right with a sign showing a picture of bicycle, a person walking, and a skier, as well as another sign (see pictures page). The trail goes across the road on the left toward Route 37 (and meets up with the above entrance, and at that point continues to the Clayton entrance, but with private land in between) and on the right over the old railroad bridge all the way to Philadelphia.

You can also gain entrance at any point on any of the small roads between the above one and Philadelphia (there are signs). One is near another restored train trestle (see pictures page), another near the ruins of a milk drop-off station (see pictures page).

Philadelphia also has another entrance to the trail (N44 09 27.2 W75 42 37.5 / N44.15757 W75.71041) with a very high, very impressive train trestle. Exciting to ride over with a bicycle (see pictures page), get onto Garden Road in Philadelphia to find this entrance. There is also a fishing area and a small park (Kent Lane Park – N44 09 22.2 W75 42 34.1 / N44.15616 W75.70948) nearby as well as canoe portage both here as well as at the park.

In Clayton, take East Line Road to S. Gerald Ingerson Preserve parking. See trail maps below for directions. 

In Redwood while on Route 37 (if you are coming from southernly/Watertown direction) watch for the Feed Mills Road on the left, behind the playground is the trail.  Alternately watch for Pine Street on the left (at the corner is the US Post Office and the Crossroads Grocery & Diner) and turn at this street, watch for the trailhead a short distance from the corner.  Better parking is probably on Feed Mills Road.

One parking area, see maps below for more entrances and parking:

Trail Distance: Quite long if you traveled the entire trail, 21-30 miles depending on what section(s) you take.  It splits to go to the three trail ends. 

Trail Maps (Each of the maps below are the trail markers for the beginning of one part of the trail, zoom in and out on the dotted line to see more of the trail, or click the car symbol in the top right of the maps to get directions):

Rivergate Trail

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Rivergate - Philadelphia End: 44.157609, -75.710467
Rivergate Trail - Clayton End/S. Gerald Ingerson Preserve: 44.231947, -76.062341
Rivergate Trail - Redwood Spur: 44.300710, -75.802295
Rivergate Trail - Theresa Entrance: 44.188682, -75.783644
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Rivergate - Philadelphia End
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Rivergate Trail - Clayton End/S. Gerald Ingerson Preserve
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Rivergate Trail - Redwood Spur
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Rivergate Trail - Theresa Entrance

Date/Time Open: All year-round. Dawn to 12:30 AM.

Mountain Biking: Yes, recommended.
Difficulty: Fun, long ride. Some ruts and holes, large stones in some places and some sand in sections.  A little muddy many times of the year.

Other Biking: Yes, possibly.
Difficulty: There are sections that would be ridable by hybrid bikes but for the most part you want a mountain bike for this trail.

Hiking/Walking Allowed: Yes.
Difficulty: Fairly Easy, for the most part.

Cross-Country Skiing: Yes.

Fishing: Yes.

Pets Allowed: Yes.

Bathrooms, picnic tables: No, but nearby in Philadelphia as well as Theresa there is a park with picnic tables, a gazebo, and possibly porta-potties at certain times of the year.

Built on Former Railroad Bed: Yes.

Special Instructions: Watch for ATV’s, in some sections the ATV club members are those taking care of the trail.  Also see S. Gerald Ingerson Preserve.

For More Information: 

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